1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct

Repairs from the big Nor’easter damage are just about done. I’ll be writing about that soon, but while the repairs are happening I’ve been continuing the work to weatherproof the boat.

There are six bilge vent ducts that exit at the mahogany toe rail, and two more on the transom. Chris Craft used a combination of pressboard and solid mahogany boards to make the ducts in the salon and at the transom, but pressboard was a horrible choice for a place that’s directly exposed to weather and spray. Of course, Chris Craft wasn’t building the boats to last forever, and pressboard is cheap and easy to work with. It was probably a decade or more before the ducts started deteriorating, by which time the warranty had long-since run out. The problem for fans of old boats is that once the ducts deteriorate, the leaking water takes out the cabinetry and floors in the area. I’ve used a couple of approaches on the ducts, but the one I think is best has been to use the original design, but with fiberglassed and epoxy sealed 1/4″ marine plywood instead of pressboard. It takes a lot longer to make each duct, but I won’t have to worry about them falling apart in ten years. The last thing I want is to have to do ANY of this work again. ūüėČ

I’ve been spending a lot of time inside this cabinet

Inside and aft is where the bilge vent duct goes

The round pipe is the bilge blower outlet. The starboard salon rear duct was completely rotted out, so I’ll have to make the whole thing.

1/4″ marine ply and solid mahogany duct boards

That ought to work

Looks good

Test fit the plywood panels

Chris Craft ran the ducts just down to the salon floor, and they didn’t seal the edges of the plywood floor there. So when rain, spray, or water from washing the boat went down the ducts, it would seep into the edge of the plywood. The wood was slightly soft in spots but otherwise in pretty good shape, so I saturated the area with epoxy until it wouldn’t soak up anymore. I’m also running the ducts all the way to the bottom of the floor frames, so water will drop straight into the bilge. I’m hopeful this will fully resolve all of the problems with Chris Craft’s approach.

The top edge needs trimming to match the angle of the deck

EZ-One track saw makes it easy to cut panels at odd angles

Test fit looks good

Screw holes got drilled and countersunk

Marked off and ready for epoxy

Cutting the fiberglass for the duct cover panel

Wetted out with epoxy, then topped with epoxy glue thickened with wood flour

Screwed together and clamped square

The duct cover panel is behind the duct, wetted out with epoxy and topped with a fiberglass layer. Once the epoxy cures, I’ll put a layer of fiberglass inside the duct and it will be ready for assembly.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct II


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting More Starboard Salon Plywood Panels

Repairs from the big Nor’easter are proceeding apace, with several hiccups being tossed in the mix by the¬†surveyor and insurance company, which hasn’t paid the claim yet. There’s a narrow weather window for painting the boat between freezing early spring and roasting hot late spring/summer, so I’ve had to self-fund the repairs to get them done during that window. Fortunately, we’ve had a longer stretch of relatively cool weather than usual, with plenty of days where the temps don’t go above 70¬įF, and the repairs are going well. All this effort just to get back to where I was before the big storm came…it’s discouraging. Anyway, I’ll post pix of the repairs before long.

While all of that’s been going on, I’ve been continuing the work of sealing up the starboard cabinetry in the salon.

Inside the starboard salon cabinetry

I’m trying to make sure there’s an insulated envelope inside the boat so it will be more comfortable and energy efficient in summer and winter. I’m doing that by insulating the backside of each plywood panel that faces the hull and making sure that none of the hull or decks are exposed to the air-conditioned interior space. So I need to install ceiling panels here under the side deck, just like I did on the port side. On the inboard side, the original cabinetry offers a good landing spot for a ceiling panel, but there’s nothing on the outboard side. I already installed one short panel above the ER main air vent, which you can see in the pic above, that will serve as the wall to which the ceiling panel attaches. Next I cut another short, upright panel from a bulkhead¬†scrap panel I saved when we were doing demolition a decade ago when the refit began.

Old-school marine plywood

It’s a dirty old panel, but the wood is in great shape.

Marine-grade Douglas fir was a lot different 50 years ago than it is today

Glued and pocket screwed in place

I’ll coat it with tinted epoxy when the job is done.

Mahogany cleat recycled from the original toe rail

Back-side of the ceiling panel gets wetted out with epoxy

Buffalo Batt insulation adds R3 insulation value to the panel

Mahogany cleat is glued and screwed in place

Et voila! Good fit!

The next step here will involve removing the ceiling panel and sealing the face with epoxy before finally installing it. I have more ceiling panels to make in here, but I first need to make a new aft bilge vent duct and wall panel to attach them to.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Aft Bilge Vent Duct

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel II

The face of the original electric panel turned out very nice with that white tinted epoxy. I was tempted not to mess with the backside, since it’s epoxy sealed and will rarely be seen. But when I ordered the white tint and thick, 150 series epoxy resin and hardener from US Composites, I also ordered their brown colorant specifically for areas like this.

Sanded, taped off, and ready for epoxy

That 150 series epoxy really flows out nicely

Great reflection

The port side under-deck panels got coated, too

These Douglas fir panels will be buried behind the built-in settee I’ll build someday, so appearance isn’t a concern. But I think I like the uniform brown better than seeing the unattractive Doug fir grain. In retrospect, a dash of white colorant to lighten up the brown might have been better.

Next day, the tape came off

Good lookin’ panel!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting and Fitting More Starboard Salon Plywood Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel

I’m still working on waterproofing the starboard side of the salon, which has involved remaking a bilge vent duct and fiberglassing the main engine room air inlet duct panel. To gain access there, I removed the original electrical panel and did some repairs to it. Next I sealed it up with white-tinted epoxy.

Back side of the electric panel has been sealed with epoxy

Mahogany sticks were epoxied into the hinge screw holes

Two of the six hinge screws had stripped out the plywood, in part because the two pieces of plywood weren’t epoxied together and the screws were right at the joint between the two panels. I epoxied the two panels together and put mahogany sticks into the screw holes, so the screws will have something solid to thread into.

Back side

With the back side sealed up (but ugly), I mixed up some US Composites 150 series thick epoxy resin and tinted it with their white colorant. I used this approach for the bed foundation in the V-berth, too. The epoxy is a tough coating that works great in places where it’s not exposed to direct sunlight. And the colorant allows me to end up with a shiny coating and sealant in one step…no primer, no additional sanding.

Not bad!

NOS ammeters look great!

The date on the label for these new/old stock Simpson ammeters says 10/62. A 1967 Chris Craft Constellation I used to own had an ammeter just like this in addition to the Simpson voltmeter, and I wanted them on the Roamer, too. I found them on ebay for a good price, and they’re a perfect match to the original voltmeter.


The genset hour meter cleaned up well, too.

Bilge pump switches look nice all polished and waxed

Not bad!

I have to box up the meters and switches, flip the panel over, and apply a coat of the 150 series epoxy tinted brown on the backside.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel II

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Engine Room Main Vent Panel

The good news is, repairs have begun on the damage to my Awlgrip paint job from the big Nor’easter a few months back. The bad news is, the insurance company’s surveyor has gone nuts and thinks the job can be done for less than half of what the estimate came to. The estimator blew up when I told him the surveyor thinks it can be done for 40% of the estimated labor hours. I pointed out to the surveyor that the estimate was consistent with my records for the amount of labor it took to prep and paint before. I wrote back to contest the surveyor’s position but haven’t heard back from him or the insurance company yet. Until this gets sorted out, I won’t be blogging as regularly as usual. There are only so many hours in a day. This is so frustrating! I hate this freakin’ boat!

[takes deep breath]

That said, I installed the starboard engine room main vent panel after extending the lower edge on it and fiberglassing the side that faces the weather. This panel is one of many things I have to install before the boat will be weatherproof and can come out of the tent.

Exterior ‘gill’ vents let a lot of cold air in during winter

Vent covers will keep out the cold

I recycled the original 3/4″ marine plywood galley bulkhead panel to make the vent covers. We removed the bulkhead during the demolition phase when we first started the project, and the bits I saved have come in very handy over the years. All I have to do is epoxy seal the edges, and the vent cover panel will be ready to keep out winter for decades to come.

Sikaflex 291 LOT seals the ER vent panel attachment points

Sliding the panel in place

More Sikaflex seals the joint to the salon cabinet floor


The upper panel will be removable (or maybe hinged) so the vent covers can be installed/removed as necessary.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Refurbing the Original Electric Panel

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Salon Bilge Vent Duct

I’m happy with the way the starboard salon bilge vent duct is turning out. A fiberglass duct is a far better approach than the pressboard and painted mahogany that Chris Craft used. It only took another weekend to wrap that up. But I’d rather spend time now to do it right than to have to fix water damage in the future.

The panels are dry-fitted

Next, I need mahogany cleats for the insulated ceiling panel to butt up against.

The ceiling cleats will be perpendicular to the cabinet wall

Fitting upright panels over the engine room main vent

The ceiling panel

Not a bad fit

Good and tight

Disassemble everything, then seal the faces with epoxy

Next day, cleats get glued and screwed in place

I wet out the surfaces then apply a bead of epoxy thickened with wood flour as the glue.

Insulated wall panel is installed

I’m using Sikaflex 291 LOT to seal the duct face panel.

Lots of sealant all the way up to the vent hole

The face panel comes up from the engine room

The panel is too long to be slid in from the salon. But there’s plenty of room coming up from the ER.

Lookin’ good!

Fully sealed and waterproof vent duct

Upright panels over the main ER vent are installed and ready for more ceiling cleats

That’s one more bilge duct that’s wrapped up. There’s one more in the salon, and four in the aft stateroom. I’ve just got to keep knocking them out one-by-one.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Engine Room Main Vent panel

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The Starboard Salon Bilge Vent Duct

I keep hearing from the mobile paint and fiberglass repair guy that the estimate for repairs for the big Nor’easter damage is almost done. But…alas…I’ve still not received it. So I continue working on weatherproofing the bilge and engine room vents on the starboard side of the salon.

Chris Craft’s approach to bilge vents

What we have here is two 3/4″ solid mahogany boards on either side, with 1/8″ fiberboard for the face and back. I don’t know where this one came from, but I removed it a decade ago¬† because it was failing when we began this project. For some reason, Chris Craft put a piece of 3/4″ plywood over the top of part of the fiberboard on this particular bilge vent. It’s all sealed up with what looks like grey primer and held together with rubbery sealant and some bronze staples. I’m sure it worked fine for ten years or so, but it’s got its problems.

Fiberboard really stuck in some spots

When I pulled the fiberboard off the mahogany, you can tell the rubbery sealant really stuck on the spots where it left some fiberboard behind. But you can also see where the rubbery sealant didn’t stick to the mahogany at all.

Bronze staples are still holding fast 50 years later

The side of the fiberboard that faced the weather

Again, you can see where the sealant really stuck, and where it didn’t stick at all.

Now let’s look at that starboard salon forward bilge vent

I left the forward vent duct in place because it looked like it was in serviceable shape. Turns out it wasn’t in quite as good shape as I first thought.

Moldy white paint on the outside

But up at the top, just behind the longitudinal deck frame, you can see daylight through the pressboard

I’m glad I took off the face panel

Lots of gaps at the top

So, in addition to the hole in the salon-facing pressboard face panel, you can see that the back panel isn’t even touching the mahogany side board. The gray primer/sealant is also gone from the mahogany in spots. And at the toe rail, the rubber sealant is only there for appearance’s sake, apparently. There’s no actual contact between the rubber sealant and the pressboard.

I considered removing the duct and rebuilding it, but the mahogany sides are very firmly attached to the underside of the deck. So I decided to fiberglass what’s there instead.

First, rough up the surface and remove anything that isn’t well adhered

I also confirmed that I can use sticks up against the hull to press the back panel into full contact with the mahogany sides.

Ready for epoxy and fiberglass

Wetted out glass cloth and epoxy thickened with cabosil

I spread a bunch of epoxy out on a piece of scrap shrink wrap plastic, then laid on a sheet of lightweight fiberglass cloth to soak it up. While the ‘glass was still soaking, I wetted out the duct with epoxy

Epoxy thickened with fumed silica to the consistency of whipped cream

Thickened epoxy fills every gap and corner

Longtime readers will know what came next, after I jammed sticks in to force the back panel into contact with the side panels.


I do love my fillets. They look nice and also give a radius to the corners, which makes it easier for the fiberglass cloth to have full contact, and water won’t find any nooks or crannies to hang out in and cause havoc.

Next, I laid on the fiberglass cloth

Next day, the epoxy is cured

The duct needs a face panel

I’m using 1/4″ Douglas fir marine plywood for all of the duct face panels I’m making. I cover them with a layer of fiberglass on the weather-facing side to ensure they’re watertight.

I need to install an insulated panel to the left of the duct, too

Framing out the backing cleats

Next day, the epoxy on the panels is cured

Excess fiberglass trimmed off nicely

Duct panel marked off for screw holes

Countersunk screw holes every 6″

The insulated panel needed a bit of trimming to fit


Just about ready for installation

Dry fit is done

These panels are behind the electric panel, so I’m not terribly concerned about appearance.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the Starboard Salon Bilge Vent Duct